Vancouver's Leader in Transition toward Strong, Resilient, Complete Communities
Would anyone else be interested in helping to organise a Village Vancouver LETS system? LETS stands for Local Exchange Trading System, and it is a popular form of mutual credit (aka a barter circle) that was invented by Michael Linton in the Comox Valley in 1982 and has since been replicated thousands of time worldwide. It works like this: let's say the Tom needs his bike tuned, and Susie advertises that she can tune bikes. Tom can get Susie to tune his bike for an agreed number of LETS credits (for simplicity, one credit is deemed to be equal to $1) - let's say 20 credits. This causes Tom's account to have a negative credit of -20, while Susie gains a positive credit of +20. Susie can use her credits to obtain goods or services from anyone else in the system - for example, apple sauce from Mark. Likewise, anyone in the system may ask Tom to give them a guitar lesson, bringing his account back into the positive. In this way, a whole parallel economy can develop in which people trade their valuable time and skills for a wide variety of other people's time and skills, enriching us all.
Michael Linton has been working closely with us on other community currency initiatives, and can set us up with his LETS software for keeping the accounts. He has even proposed a name for our Village Vancouver LETS currency - the ViVa! All we need to do, really, is set up a website (or simply a separate page on the Village Vancouver website) where people can post their offerings. We will also need a few people to act as the system administrators, who would promote it to new members and keep an eye on the health of the system. I have been thinking about this for a long time and would have liked to have set something like this up sooner, but have been kept very busy with other community currency initiatives. I am therefore hoping to plant this idea in a couple of people's minds who would be excited enough to take the initiative and run with it. I am willing to offer my support especially in connecting anyone who wants to take this on with the resources to do it.
Jordan, I don't know if you and others have advanced on this idea, but I'm interested in something similar, Time Banking. I thinnk the form of currency (one hour) is easier to navigate, but either way, if there is a discussion going on around this, I'd like to be a part of it.
Thanks for your interest in this - I think that finding new means of exchange is an important part of increasing our resilience.There are pros and cons to Time Banking compared with a LETSystem, but I do not see them as mutually exclusive: a community may choose to trade in time for some things, and in LETS credits (measured in $ equivalence) for other things.
Advantages of a Time Bank:
-Egalitarian: all people's time is equal, and everyone has the same number of hours in a day.
-Absolute and inflationproof: Everyone knows what an hour of their time is worth to them, and time as a measure cannot be inflated.
Disadvantages of a Time Bank:
-Works well for services, less well for goods. In Village Vancouver, we have many people who grow food and make things, and the value of the things that they grow and make is harder to value in terms of time. A LETSystem is more flexible in this regard, as it allows people to measure the prices of goods in familiar dollar-equivalent terms. Sellers can also request a combination of LETS credits and $Cdn to cover any $Cdn costs that went into the making of their product.
-Although it is nice to think that one person's time is worth the same as anyone else's, in practice it is not so simple. Many professionals who bring a tremendous amount of skill, experience and educational investment into what they do may not agree that an hour of their time is worth the same as someone offering a service not of the same calibre. There may also be qualitative differences between, say, an hour of hard labour and an hour of doing something relatively easy.
Anyways, I'm happy to discuss further. If you'd be interested in spearheading the implementation of either or both systems in Village Vancouver, I can offer you my support. Feel free to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
I'm happy to be part of the discussion, Jordan.
I'm interested in this. I like how Douglas Rushkoff frames it: creation of a peer-to-peer economy where wealth is not created centrally but locally. So simple. The key is trust and a large enough network to make it "profitable" i.e. worthwhile.
Here's an interesting piece of open source software to facilitate Open Money: